Mubariz Alizada's struggle to protect Nizami Ganjavi from distortions
Rafael Huseynov

One of the most significant stages on the path of studying the life and work of the great Azerbaijani poet and philosopher Nizami Ganjavi and delivering his heritage to the people in its entirety coincides with the late 1930s and 1940s. On the eve of the 800th anniversary of Nizami which would take place in 1941, large-scale
work had been launched with the involvement of leading oriental scholars and translators not only from Azerbaijan, but also from the Soviet Union which incorporated Azerbaijan as well at that time. Certainly, the bulk of the work fell on Azerbaijani researchers. The poet, translator and researcher Mubariz Alizada, who
was one of the first to defend his dissertation on poetry and the world of ideas of Nizami Ganjavi in 1947, has been one of the most active Azerbaijani reserachers of Nizami since the 1930s. Then, for more than half a century he worked with the same consistency and seriousness in the field of teaching and preaching Nizami. Among the authors who conducted research on Nizami Ganjavi in Azerbaijan in the 1930s and regularly appeared in the press and scientific collections, 3 people stand out the most – Hamid Arasli, Mubariz Alizada and Mikayil Rafili. Mikayil Rafili, who at that time was among the first and youngest professors in the field of philology in Azerbaijan, was one of the most productive scholars in this area, and numerous articles written by him about Nizami were published outside the republic. At the same time, already in 1939, his separate books about the life and work of Nizami were published in Azerbaijani and Russian. Mikayil Rafili also held a responsible position in the state jubilee committee established in relation with the 800th anniversary of Nizami. In 1940 a large article by Mubariz Alizada entitled "Against hack-work in the world of literature" and published in the journal "Revolution and Culture", which was the main periodical literary publication of that time, was devoted to distortions in Mikail Rafili's research on Nizami Ganjavi.

Notwithstanding Mubariz Alizada had a perfect command of the Persian language and was directly familiar with Nizami Ganjavi's masnavis included in the "Khamsa" as well as with medieval sources about the poet, the author whom he criticized was deprived of this opportunity. Via quoting specific examples Mubariz Alizada reveals that M. Rafili uses incorrect translations which leads to incorrect conclusions about the biography and work of the poet. Also stating that the essay about Nizami in the textbook "Literature" for secondary schools was written by the same author and there were gross errors, Mubariz Alizada expressed concern that this might lead to more serious consequences. Because works full of distortions will certainly interfere with the correct formation of the image of Nizami Ganjavi and ideas about his work both among the young educated generation and among the broad masses of readers.

Considering that at that time the masnavis of Nizami had not yet been fully translated and published, and the information preserved in the works of scholars was the only means for readers to get to know the poet and the world of his ideas, it is not difficult to imagine how great the damage that these errors might cause. Professor Mubariz Alizada continued his struggle against distortions related to the heritage of Nizami Ganjavi over the following decades, and on the same principle in the 1980s he wrote a series of articles that accurately analyzed the errors in researches and translations made regarding Nizami. His critical article written in the mid 20th century appears as a classic example of an honest scientific attitude to Nizami's heritage and a classic example of protecting a genius poet from distortions.

Keywords: Heritage of Nizami, 800th anniversary, Azerbaijani reserachers, Hamid Arasli, Mubariz Alizada, Mikayil Rafili, “Revolution and Culture”, “Khamsa”, critical article, classic example, protecting from distortions